Armenia, NATO Map Out More Joint Actions

Top officials from Armenia and NATO meet in Brussels on May 20, 2009.

Top officials from Armenia and NATO meet in Brussels on May 20, 2009.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Senior Armenian government officials met NATO leaders in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss their country’s continued cooperation with the Western alliance and regional security issues.

Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian held talks with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer before attending a special meeting on Armenia of the alliance’s decision-making North Atlantic Council.

“Issues related to the full spectrum of Armenia-NATO relations were discussed,” a spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Tigran Balayan, told RFE/RL. He said the discussions centered on the realization of Armenia’s revamped “individual partnership action plan,” or IPAP, with NATO.

The IPAP was launched in 2005, highlighting Armenia’s growing security ties with the West. It committed the South Caucasus state to implementing defense reforms aimed at bringing its military into greater conformity with NATO standards and practices. President Serzh Sarkisian announced the nearing completion of those reforms last December.

The cooperation framework also envisages a greater Armenian participation in NATO-led multinational missions and military exercises. Armenia hosted such exercises as recently as last fall. However, it backed out of similar drills that were held in neighboring Georgia and strongly condemned by Russia earlier this month.

Ohanian blamed the last-minute pullout on de Hoop Scheffer’s strong support for Azerbaijani claims of territorial integrity in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict voiced during a recent visit to Baku.

When asked whether Nalbandian and Ohanian raised the matter with the NATO chief and whether Yerevan will send troops to future NATO war games, Balayan said, “It was affirmed that Armenia-NATO cooperation will continue in different forms.” He did not elaborate.

The official said the Armenian ministers also briefed NATO officials on the latest developments in the Karabakh peace process and Turkish-Armenian relations. He said representatives of the 28-nation alliance “encouraged the authorities in Armenia and Turkey to complete the process of the normalization of relations.”

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